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Using a Dog Muzzle

Veterinarians and Pet Care
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In some instances the use of a dog muzzle may be needed, but pet owners should always use muzzles cautiously as misuse of these products can be dangerous to dogs.

When to Use a Dog Muzzle

A dog muzzle should only be used when absolutely necessary, and then for only brief periods of time:

Muzzles are often used at a veterinarian visit while the doctor is examining the dog or if a brief procedure, such as a blood draw, needs to be performed. Dogs that may bite out of extreme fear or which pose a hazard to the doctor – such as large breeds or dogs with a history of biting – are usually the ones which are muzzled in these cases.

Pet owners may need to use a dog muzzle if they are just beginning to socialize their pet. The muzzle can be a helpful tool that will protect people and pets while the dog learns how to socially interact with other humans and animals.

Pet behavioral instructors may recommend muzzling a dog that has shown a tendency to snap or bite. As the dog becomes more accustomed to the class and instructor, the muzzle may be removed.

The Dangers of a Dog Muzzle

The biggest danger to the use of dog muzzles is heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Dogs control their body temperature through panting, and if a muzzled dog becomes overheated panting is either hindered or impossible.

For this reason, a dog muzzle should never be placed on a dog that is at risk for overheating – such as a dog in a car or kennel. Muzzles should never be placed on dogs that are not going to be continually supervised; a dog muzzle must also never be used on a dog that is sleeping.

Overuse of dog muzzles may cause reactions – such as aggression, fear and panic - to develop. Pet owners will need to assess how their dog is responding to a muzzle to help prevent added behavioral problems and psychological disturbances from occurring.

Choosing a Dog Muzzle

The best type of dog muzzle for your dog will depend on your dog’s size, strength and what the muzzle is being used for. Any type of muzzle should fit securely and be easy to put on and take off.

Larger dogs that are a risk for biting will need strong muzzles – for example, leather muzzles which close with buckles – that will not break if they attempt to bite or snap at someone.

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